It’s no secret that St Andrews hosts a spectacular amount of student talent, especially for such a small university (coming from a completely unbiased source, of course.) This August, our beloved Mermaids are sending three shows to the world renowned Edinburgh Festival Fringe as ambassadors of different aspects of that aforementioned talent: Pirates of Penzance, Bear Hug, and Patriots. The latter two of these, notably, are both student written originals authored by recent graduate Rory Mackenzie and now third year Alexander Gillespie. I was lucky enough to be invited in to watch a preview performance of Gillespie’s play and was incredibly impressed at what I witnessed. Patriots has all the tools necessary to hopefully become a Fringe hit: a fresh perspective, an excellent and enthusiastic production team, and a captivating story.
Unlike Bear Hug, which made its debut in St Andrews in the fall of this past academic year, Patriots will be unveiled for the first time this Saturday, August 8th at the Fringe. Gillespie first began working on the script during the summer he spent working at a camp in America last year. His fellow co-workers would have intense political discussions and inspired him to want to contribute to the contemporary political conversation through a different medium.
In the play, four actors play the four main roles with all of them doubling or tripling up on characters as needed to help support the four main stories, linked together via the twisted thread that is politics. Gillespie’s script takes four familiar stories and ties them together to lead the viewer to examine them from a different angle. His storytelling is elegant, intelligent, and accessible. The characters’ monologues are expertly crafted in a naturalistic and believable manner, making them ultimately relatable. There is also some beautifully moving original poetry, deftly incorporated into the story to look forward to as well as some more zany aspects such as swarming internet trolls and a sentient evil piece of technology.
There are a few messages that the production team wants audiences to come away with after experiencing Patriots. Hannah Raymond-Cox, playing Mary, a politician’s wife, hopes that it inspires people to, “Think about how you’re getting the message, from whom, and consider more than one side of a story.” Stephen Quinn, playing Ian, a young SNP member, states that “Patriots is all about making politics relatable.” Bennett Bonci, playing a poor-decision making Senator, along the same lines, wants people to “Think about where they might fit into this picture” (painted by Patriots) and “what that might say about them.” And as for the director/ playwright? “I am just excited for people to see it.”
So, beginning this Saturday and lasting until the 22nd, make sure you check out Patriots at the Paradise in the Vault. Tickets can be bought here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/patriots
After all, who could resist such a fun and moving play from a first time playwright, self described as “Politics, but weirder.”